Tuesday, June 11, 2019

My Favorite Topps Sets of the 1950's

Here's a quick top 10 list for my current thoughts on 1950's Topps.  The greatest influences in putting together this list were current activity and general interest.  If there's no activity for a particular year in my collection, then either I already own most of the cards, the costs are too high, or I'm probably not that interested. 

#1-1951: If putting your money where your mouth is, is any indication of one's favorite set, then 1951 Topps is without a doubt on the top of my list for 1950's Topps sets.  This was a fun and affordable set for me to collect.  For budget collectors like me, it gives collectors an option to build the set one series at a time. After purchasing my first 1951 Topps card out of curiosity one day, I was hooked.  This set just seems to make the perfect transition between early Bowmans and more modern Topps sets.  1951 Topps is the probably the greatest underdog set of the 1950s.  Beckett price guides typically skip this set, or at best, treat it as two insignificantly-sized sets.  Topps company on the other hand, clearly recognizes 1951 as its first real baseball card set consisting of 104 cards.  For reference, just look at the 2015 Topps Heritage '51 set consisting of 104 cards, or its many anniversaries celebrated in 1991, 2001, 2011, and even 2016.  There's no Mantle or Mays in this set, but how many of us could afford those cards if it did?

#2-1954:  This was one the first of the 1950's sets I started collecting, so it holds a lot of sentimental value to me.  I used to be a Giants fan, so their final World Series victory until 2010 was appealing early on as well.  As far as design, I like the large team icons with the autographed combination of portrait and action shots.  When I first started collecting this set commons could be easily found for just over a $1.  There are a bunch of stars, but nothing that too unaffordable like in the 1953 and 1955 sets.  Key rookies include Al Kaline, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Tommy Lasorda, and Harvey Kuenn. 

#3-1959:  One of my first 1950's cards was from this set.  It's both the largest, as well as the most affordable set of the 1950's in terms of overall value.  Commons can still be found for very cheap and stars can be found at a decent price.  High-numbers aren't excessively overpriced like many sets of the 1960's.  There are also a bunch of different subsets to keep this set interesting as you build it. 

#4-1953: I really like the 1953 Topps set.  The painted portraits with background are definitely an improvement over the 1952 set, and I like the large team icons.  These are the closest to Bowman that Topps gets.  This set could easily be ranked higher, but collecting this set has some pains.  The price structure of this set is all messed up because of so many DP's and SP's.  I'd prefer to see cards priced on player quality and popularity.  At least premium priced high-numbers tend to be consistent, but the DP's and SP's are scattered throughout.  This set also has premium priced high-numbers as well, which seem to take up a large chunk of this already smaller-sized set.  

#5-1952:  This is the set everyone hears about.  Some people go collecting this one first for that very reason, but I don't think most 1950's collectors are really prioritizing this set at the top of their list.  It was the largest, most complete set dating back to T-206, and would remain so until 1957 Topps, but who can really afford to collect it?  I purchased the reprint set just to become familiar with the set, but I find myself collecting and looking at other 1950's sets more often.  1952 Topps don't really seem to be dominating blog posts on 1950's cards if you think about it.  I'm sure a large part of the reason is expense.  1952 Topps commons cost more than any of the other 1950's sets and the prices for high numbers are astronomical.      

#6-1955:  These are just like the 1954's, but with a horizontal shot instead.  I really don't like how it's the smallest of the 1950's sets after 1951.  The commons are affordable in comparison to other pre-1957 cards but there are a couple of really high-priced cards making it really tough to complete this small set.

#7-1958:  This was one of the last of the 1950's sets I chose to build next to 1957.  After nearly completing the 1959 set, I recently made some large purchases to advance my 1958 collection from less than 100 cards to just over 400 cards out of 494.  I now have a very respectable collection of 58's.  The commons in this set can be very affordable if you are buying from the right outlets.  They are not as cheap as the 1959's but definitely cheaper than the 1957's and older.  The worst part is the solid color background.

#8-1956:  This was Jim Beckett's favorite set as indicated in one of my 1980's Beckett magazines.  Perhaps that has changed a bit for him since then, I don't know.  It combines all of the best features of the oversized cards.  There's the painted portrait, the color action shot, a nice background, and the players autograph.  It's a fairly large set with very affordable commons for the pre-1957 era.  What's not to like?  I don't know but if it belonged higher on my list, I figure that I'd be looking at, and collecting more of the cards in this set.  The truth is that 1956 is getting ignored by me right now, so it's apparently not one of my favorite sets.  

#9-1957:  Perhaps this set was just too far ahead of it's time.  These were the first full-color photo shots released since Bowman first attempted it in 1953.  I don't think Topps would try to do it again until 1961.  This set is very large for the 1950's, just like 1952, and it isn't as affordable to build as the other two modern-sized sets of the 1950's.  Since I collect for value, the 1959 and 1958 sets come first when it comes to modern-sized sets of the 1950's.  

1 comment:

  1. I started building 57 a while back after finishing 56 and I find the commons are very affordable. I had the hit of a lifetime (that got me back in the hobby actually) finding the Brooks Robinson RC for $12.25 at a flea market. It's poor but I'll take it! I have very little of the rare series, is that where the difficulty lies or is it the stars? I've got the Williams, Mantle, Brooks, Spahn, and Campanella but no other big stars.